Our stay in Germany continued on to the little village of Mittel-Loxten outside Versmold, pronounced Fairsmold. As the weather changed from rainy drizzle to sharp winds, the temperature dropped. We were welcomed on a cold Friday afternoon with kaffee und kuchen on the family heirloom china and a family reunion began.
Versmold is a small town about 20 minutes drive from Halle and is renowned for its small goods factories, producing sausages, salamis and other mainly pork based meat products. The family’s farmhouse looked out over the maize and barley fields and a beautiful old Boskopp apple tree. On our previous visit in spring, this tree was just bursting into bud. Now it was shedding its leaves and the last apples were falling.
Our family took us to the Muenster Saturday market because it was peak mushroom or pilze season. It was 6 degrees as we entered the Altstadt but the sky was brilliant blue.
Muffled shoppers clustered around Flamkuchen, a sort of pizza and Reibekuchen (onion pancake), stands drinking coffee. We headed for the mushroom stand where there were over 20 different varieties on display. Steinpilze were the top pick for our evening dinner.
Harvest fruit and vegetables were creatively displayed – so many varieties of potato, enormous bunches of gruen kohl or kale, kohlrabi and the ubiquitous kuerbis – a vitamin A and folic acid paradise for a nutrition tragic.
Other rows featured fish, including matjes or herring fillets, cheese and meat. We liked the autumn flowers, especially the different heathers, bulbs and Christmas wreaths of dried leaves, bark and berries.
In the background was the Muenster Dom, which pealed out its midday calling to the faithful. Mostly tourists however were inside its vast interior. Muenster is a university town, with a cobble stoned circuit bounding the buildings of the merchant traders, who were the original inhabitants. The Dom was built by the Roman Catholic Church however the merchant citizens and masons contributed the funds for the Lamberti church in the Prinzipalmarkt. From the tower of this church in 1563, the bodies of three rebels were hung in iron cages, for their part in Muenster rebellion, an anti-religious movement.
Now, young students on bicycles clattered over the cobble stones as we wandered around. A visit to the Picasso museum to see a Marc Chagall exhibition topped off our trip and we wended our way home to a wonderful meal of mushrooms in sauce.
Next morning we went for a last walk in the forest. This time around the Harkotten Schloss. We saw more mushrooms in the wild and tried a number of strategies to test if they were poisonous, like a blue ring forming around the broken stem. No one was game to try eating them!
As we walked, high above us hundreds of migrating cranes could be seen and heard all morning. These birds migrate from their northern Scandinavian or North German breeding grounds to the south of France or Spain for wintering. They have a wing span of over 2 metres and were flocking in huge V formations. Our 90 year old Oma Herte told us if you see the cranes in autumn it means you will live another year! A good luck story! Our ears were beginning to burn with cold so after a good hour of walking, we adjourned to the Buddenkotte Gasthaus in Saasenberg for a last kaffee und kuchen.